Masterclass: Andrew WK
Legendary party-starter, immutable frontman, producer, motivational speaker and positive thinker Andrew WK made an appearance at BIMM London recently to regale students with existential musings, his experiences within the music industry and of course, some fantastic advice.
Interviewed by Head Of Music Journalism Dr Jennifer Otter-Bickerdike, Andrew showcased the impressive insight and articulation for which he is renowned and touched on pivotal moments within his multi-faceted career, which all started with the release of his debut album “I Get Wet” back in 2001.
One question was on the subject of the now iconic cover art to the LP, featuring his own face with a bloodied nose (legend has it, this is the authentic result of Andrew hitting himself in the face with a brick). He mused on why he felt so passionately about “that” image.
“There was a little resistance from the label, but I felt very passionate about using that image and couldn’t really explain why. Sometimes that happens! You get the impulse and the clarity for an idea, but you don’t get the reasoning behind it, because it’s coming from this creative urge. I remember clearly, one guy at the label was pushing against the idea and warned me ‘you’ll always just be known as the bloody nose guy.’ And I said, that’s the entire point!”
Continuing the thread of image and branding, Andrew went on to advise students about whether or not it’s something new artists should be overly concerned with.
“I think doing it out of a sense of necessity or with any sense of pressure would ultimately lead to something that wouldn’t work well and certainly wouldn’t be very fun. The best case scenario is that you love the branding aspect as much as anything else in your career. Each element is connected to the core mission. I like going to meetings as much as I like recording. And that’s how you can tell you’re doing something you’re meant to do.”
Aside from his debut smash hit “Party Hard”, Andrew is known for his infectious positivity. Which has in turn led to him finding additional opportunities as a motivational speaker. His knack for putting a positive spin on almost all aspects of his life is seemingly part of his genetic make-up. One question he received from the students was how he silences the inner-voice which says, ‘no, you can’t’, rather than ‘yes, you can!’.
“I don’t think you can completely tune-out that voice of self-doubt. That’s a very human part of you. But there’s something that’s better than human – which is music – that we’re able to engage with. You wanna set aside enough of yourself to be able to carry out the physical tasks necessary to bring that music into being. All the weakness and faults we have are still there. You just have to hope that within all that, there’s a slither that can be dedicated to something truly worthy of a human and that you get something great out of it. I think it’s a waste of energy to try and silence those doubts. You just hope you have the wherewithal to do what needs to be done when it really counts.”
Hearing Andrew address topics as varied as pizza, music licensing, video budgets, major labels, M&M’s and even destiny, it was clear to everyone present that he’s a man of seemingly limitless anecdotal splendour. Perhaps the most poignant moment of his Masterclass came when he was asked to give advice to anyone looking to forge a career in music.
“Follow the deepest instinct that you can barely hear, but is the most persistent. The voice at the core of all your inner thoughts, the voice that seems the easiest to doubt. An artist is someone who makes decisions about life, such as what note to play or what brush stroke to make, takes responsibility for it and attempts to make the best decisions in an intuitive way. It’s almost like you HAVE to do it. Even to your own detriment, at times. That’s the challenge. Additionally, play as much music as you possibly can. And don’t let any of the other aspects of the the pursuit of a life in music detract from the music itself, because then you’ve poisoned the whole thing.”
Andrew WK’s latest album “You’re Not Alone” is out on March 2nd.